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Celebrating Autism Acceptance Each Day at People Inc.

Apr 05, 2024

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to Autism, and that is clear in the approach to the People Inc. day program on Hertel Ave. in Buffalo, where all participants fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Whether it’s creating art, gardening, reading, volunteering, or learning daily living skills, each program attendee has a daily choice of activities and varied experiences.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3, impacting development of the brain in areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. April is known as Autism Acceptance Month and a time to draw attention to accepting all people with Autism. To Katie Radecki, director of the Hertel Avenue program, that means meeting people where they are.

“When you’re meeting or supporting someone with autism, be aware that just because they may communicate in a unique way doesn’t mean they can’t,” said Katie Radecki, program director. “Don’t make assumptions. If you’ve met someone with autism, you’ve only met one person with autism! Step away from the stereotypes.”

The key to the program's success is the individualized attention provided to each participant – each person has their own schedule, routine, and needs. There is a shared sensory room, and each activity room has a customized sensory space to meet the unique needs of the people who attend.

Michael Egloff, for example, describes being creative as one of his favorite ways to spend his day. “I like all of the art projects and drawing the most,” he said. “I’m happy here.”

Autism Awareness Month was first officially recognized in 1988. Many advocates today, however, prefer the name Autism Acceptance Month, as it recognizes Autism as a natural condition, along with an ongoing need to end discrimination. Autism can still be heavily stigmatized by the public, preventing those with Autism from living comfortably and being accepted for who they are. 

Both Tony Rivera, senior day supervisor, and Radecki, agreed that some of their most important responsibilities are to advocate for those who attend the program, assist each person in finding their own way to communicate and be heard, and to help people in the community see beyond “disabilities.”

Although art is an important part of the programming here, attendees are also involved with making music, creative movement and yoga, gardening, computers, working on daily living skills, reading, money management, and volunteering with community organizations—such as providing home-delivered meals and sorting/hanging clothes for Friends of Night People. Seasonal experiences can include visits to area farms for apple and pumpkin picking, as well as a very active participation with the Miracle League Baseball team.

Through this wide range of activities, those enrolled in the program can be their authentic selves in an environment that nurtures growth and encourages a fulfilling experience every day.


People Inc. employees Abby Setlur, behavior coordinator, and Sue Abramowshi, direct support professional - residential, were invited to discuss the meaning and impact of World Autism Awareness Day during a segment of WGRZ's Most Buffalo Show on April 2. Learn more